In Section C, we said that a successful workshop is one that achieves its aim. We also said that the general aim of any workshop should be to make, create, repair or update something. So you can say that your workshop was successful if you make what you were aiming to make.
In Example C1, we talked about a workshop with an aim to implement a community media programming and distribution plan in order to incorporate local content created by the target community within the regular schedule. So this workshop would be successful if the programming and distribution plan was implemented, and did include local content created by the target community. This aim is easy to observe and to measure.
In Example C3 was to strengthen governance and management of community radio and its founding institutions, in order to run radio as a successful social enterprise that supports the mission of development. How could you know if this workshop was successful? You would have to measure the strength of governance and management of community radio before and after the workshop – which would be very difficult.
Let’s look at Example D1 again. This workshop will be a success if it achieves its aim to create HIV/AIDS radio content. But to measure the impact of the workshop, you would have to measure HIV/AIDS rates before and after the new content was broadcast. You would also have to isolate any other factors which may be affecting HIV/AIDS rates during the same period. This kind of measurement is beyond the budget of most organisations.
It is difficult to measure the impact of a single HIV/AIDS content workshop in the short-term; but we can measure the impact of the host organisation’s strategy on HIV/AIDS rates over the long-term. This is one of the reasons for Exercise C6, in which we define how our workshop’s aim contributes to a wider organisational strategy.
So don’t try to measure the impact of an individual workshop, unless you’re skilled at this kind of evaluation. Instead, measure the impact of your organisation’s wider strategy, and explain how your workshop (or series of workshops) has contributed to this strategy.
Written participant feedback
Designing a participant survey or feedback form can be useful – if there is a good reason. For example, it may be that some kind of written assessment may be a requirement of your organisation or funding body. If so, perhaps you could include a workshop activity in which a small team designs and implements an evaluation form for the whole workshop.
But don’t waste time with a written feedback form if only one or two people will ever read it. Instead, ask participants to share their thoughts online so that anybody can read them – including future workshop facilitators and participants! COL’s WikiEducator can be used as a ‘bulletin board’ for feedback; so can network tools like Facebook or Ning (see Section G). You can include photographs of the workshop, or audio recordings of interviews with participants and/or the local community. But remember to ask permission before you make any recording.
It is essential to follow up a workshop by communicating with the participants, and if possible encouraging the participants to continue communicating with each other.
In many cases, it can be very easy to schedule a follow-up meeting of the workshop participants without additional travel requirements. Use a conference call service, Skype (http://www.skype.com/intl/en), or a webcam to ask participants whether an agreed-upon action plan has been implemented; or if the workshop activities continue to be of use to them in their work. You may be able to include an activity during the original workshop in which a small group designs and administers the follow-up activity.